6 Thermogenic Foods That Can Boost Your Metabolism

What if I told you there are certain types of thermogenic foods that can actually help you boost your metabolism, enhance your weight loss results and preserve lean muscle mass? Well there are, a boost in your metabolic rate, is exactly what you need to burn more calories at rest and cut body fat. We’re going to talk about which foods you need in your weekly meal plan to increase your body’s thermic effect leading to a faster metabolic rate and your body recomp goals. 

What Is Thermogenesis

Some of the calories you eat are used to digest, absorb, metabolize, and store food, while some other calories are burned off as heat. This process is known by several different names including diet induced thermogenesis (DIT), specific dynamic action (SDA), and the thermic effect of food (TEF).

In general, there are three different classifications of thermogenesis 

  1. Diet Induced Thermogenesis (DIT)
  2. Exercise Associated Thermogenesis (EAT)
  3. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)—not including sleeping, eating, or exercise

The thermic effect of food is one of the components of metabolism or total daily energy expenditure along with resting metabolic rate, basal metabolic rate, activity level, age, and gender. Thermogenesis is essentially the energy “cost” it takes to breakdown your food, digest it, and turn it into fuel. While the cumulative effect of the thermic effect of food on total daily expenditure is small, it still contributes to burning more total calories and supporting your weight loss goals. 

A general estimate of the thermic effect of food is around 10% of total daily caloric intake, though the effect varies significantly with different types of foods. The energy required to digest each macronutrient or the (TEF) can be expressed as a percentage of the energy provide by each macronutrient.  

  • Fat: 9 calories per gram with a TEF of 0–3%.
  • Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram with a TEF of 5–10%.
  • Protein: 4 calories per gram with a TEF of 20–30%.

Thus, if a meal contains 500kcal then the thermic effect of processing that meal is about 50kcal.

Essentially eating healthier foods, will help you burn even more calories by boosting your metabolism. Yet another reason to eat a healthy mix of lean proteins, quality carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

The Best Thermogenic Foods

Lean Protein

Classified as a macronutrient, as opposed to a food, protein-rich foods have a high thermic effect, and can keep you satiated - another important component to weight loss. Research has consistently shown that diets higher in protein, preserve lean muscle mass and burn more body fat.

Whether it’s salmon, eggs, steak, chicken or a protein supplement like whey protein isolate, the energy needed to metabolize protein is much higher at 20-30% than other macronutrients. Studies show that diet’s consisting of 30-35% protein will significantly improve thermogenesis.

RELATED ARTICLE How Much Protein Do You Need To Lose Weight

Green Tea

Green tea contains catechins, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) a powerful polyphenol thought to help stimulate the process of fat oxidation and lipolysis. Green tea works to mobilize fat cells by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). When this enzyme is inhibited, noradrenaline increases, thus promoting more fat to breakdown.

RELATED ARTICLE Can Green Tea Help You Lose Weight

The thermic effect of green tea also contributes to its powerful fat burning properties. Studies suggest that supplementing with green tea extract or EGCG can increase the number of calories you burn at rest 3-8% [R]. Adding in a few cups of green tea per day, and/or a fat-burning supplement that contains green tea before your workouts, will help you burn more calories and body fat. In fact, studies show that green tea extract taken pre-workout can increase your fat burning ability 17% [R].

Chili Peppers

If you like spicy, then you should consider adding some hot chili peppers to your weekly meal prep. Chili peppers contain a compound called, capsaicin, the phytochemical responsible fot the spiciness of peppers. Capsaicin has been shown to boost metabolism and contribute to weight loss by increasing satiety and the ability to burn body fat [R].

A systematic review published in the journal Appetite showed that the three main benefits of chili peppers on weight management were increased energy expenditure, increased lipid oxidation, and reduced appetite. It was also observed that consumption of capsaicinoids increases energy expenditure by approximately 50 kcal/day [R].

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent carbohydrate source that can help with weight management. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients and help keep you fuller for longer, due to their robust fiber content. They contain soluble fiber, which slows down digestion and improves digestive health. From promoting feelings of fullness, you will essentially eat fewer calories.

A study published in the journal Nutrients 58 study participants replaced one meal per day with 132g of white sweet potatoes, showed an overall decrease in body weight, body fat and body circumference by 5% in comparison to the control group after eight weeks [R].

If you’re trying to get more sweet potato in your diet, we recommend our product Clean Carbs. Clean Carbs are made with 100% complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries to help you increase thermogenesis, promote a feeling of fullness, and achieve your body re-composition goals.

Turmeric

Recent evidence suggests that Turmeric may help promote weight loss. Turmeric contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties called curcuminoids. The most vital compound within turmeric is its active ingredient curcumin. A large body of evidence shows that in addition to curcumin, turmeric contains over one hundred unique chemical properties that contribute to its countless therapeutic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Research suggests that curcumin has protective effects against regaining weight, through the inhibition of adipose tissue growth and increasing insulin sensitivity [R].

A study evaluating the effects of curcumin on extended weight loss, administered 44 subjects who had lost at least 2% of their total body weight with 800mg of curcumin with 8mg of piperine twice per day for thirty days post diet and training. The results showed that curcumin increased weight loss, (1.88 to 4.91%), enhanced body fat reduction (from 0.70 to 8.43%), increased waistline reduction (from 2.36 to 4.14%), improved hip circumference reduction from 0.74 to 2.51% and enhanced reduction of BMI (from 2.10 to 6.43%). Although this is a preliminary study, the findings suggest that curcumin could positively influence weight management [R].

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Ginger

If you’ve ever tried ginger before, then you know that ginger brings some serious heat. A systematic review on the effects of ginger on weight loss and metabolic rate on obese individuals, found that ginger may help reduce body weight and fasting glucose levels [R]. Another study published in the journal Metabolism found that ginger enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of fullness [R]. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols which increases thermogenesis and stimulates lipolysis.

Thermogenic Foods That Can Boost Your Metabolism: Takeaway

It almost seems too good to be true that you can eat certain foods that will increase your body’s internal temperature and help you burn body fat. Including these thermogenic foods into your nutrition plan is a sustainable way to consistently burn more total calories while also maintaining muscle mass. Though your total daily energy expenditure won’t increase that much, every extra burned calorie counts to help you achieve a caloric deficit and enhance your weight loss results.


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References

Rudelle S, Ferruzzi MG, Cristiani I, Moulin J, Macé K, Acheson KJ, Tappy L. Effect of a thermogenic beverage on 24-hour energy metabolism in humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Feb;15(2):349-55. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.529. PMID: 17299107.

McCarty, Mark F et al. “Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health.” Open heart vol. 2,1 e000262. 17 Jun. 2015, doi:10.1136/openhrt-2015-000262

Whiting S, Derbyshire E, Tiwari BK. Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite. 2012 Oct;59(2):341-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.05.015. Epub 2012 May 22. PMID: 22634197.

Hursel R, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Thermogenic ingredients and body weight regulation. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Apr;34(4):659-69. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.299. Epub 2010 Feb 9. PMID: 20142827.

Shih CK, Chen CM, Hsiao TJ, Liu CW, Li SC. White Sweet Potato as Meal Replacement for Overweight White-Collar Workers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 14;11(1):165. doi: 10.3390/nu11010165. PMID: 30646532; PMCID: PMC6356856.

Teich T, Pivovarov JA, Porras DP, Dunford EC, Riddell MC. Curcumin limits weight gain, adipose tissue growth, and glucose intolerance following the cessation of exercise and caloric restriction in rats. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Dec 1;123(6):1625-1634. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01115.2016. Epub 2017 Aug 24. PMID: 28839007; PMCID: PMC5814682.

Ding L, Li J, Song B, Xiao X, Zhang B, Qi M, Huang W, Yang L, Wang Z. Curcumin rescues high fat diet-induced obesity and insulin sensitivity in mice through regulating SREBP pathway. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2016 Aug 1;304:99-109. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2016.05.011. Epub 2016 May 18. PMID: 27208389.

Di Pierro F, Bressan A, Ranaldi D, Rapacioli G, Giacomelli L, Bertuccioli A. Potential role of bioavailable curcumin in weight loss and omental adipose tissue decrease: preliminary data of a randomized, controlled trial in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. Preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Nov;19(21):4195-202. PMID: 26592847.

Maharlouei N, Tabrizi R, Lankarani KB, Rezaianzadeh A, Akbari M, Kolahdooz F, Rahimi M, Keneshlou F, Asemi Z. The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(11):1753-1766. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1427044. Epub 2018 Feb 2. PMID: 29393665.

Mansour MS, Ni YM, Roberts AL, Kelleman M, Roychoudhury A, St-Onge MP. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study. Metabolism. 2012 Oct;61(10):1347-52. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.03.016. Epub 2012 Apr 24. PMID: 22538118; PMCID: PMC3408800.

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